I’m hobbling down stairs today and with a racer’s short-term memory I am shocked again at how sore every muscle in my body can feel after pounding the pavement for 13.1 miles (21.1 km). A little while back when I saw there was decent prize money for the Calgary half marathon, I thought it might fit well into my race schedule and be a good chance to go for a personal best time. After all, my only other three half marathons that haven’t been at the end of a half-ironman distance triathlon have been the Calgary Policeman’s half, always at the end of April, and pretty much always cold, rainy or snowy!
Well even the end of May can still be chilly in Calgary, and at our 7:00am race start it was cool and cloudy but at least dry. Sporting my first Luna team race singlet with a wool shirt underneath, shorts and gloves turned out to be the perfect choice (no camera with me but hopefully I will find some pics to add soon). The marathon and half marathon racers, meaning well over 4000 runners started out together from Stampede Park – it is pretty amazing to do events with that many people – a very cool part about road running races! I started in the second row, and went out with the plan to follow whoever was to lead out the women. I noted Lisa Harvey in front of me (a 1992 Olympian in the 10km, also a mom of two, who is still flying at the age of 42!). She took out the pace and was slightly ahead of me along with a blonde girl in a purple tank top. You never know who is going to show up! I was dangling slightly behind them along with Nadia Fry (last year’s second place finisher) as we went through the first kilometre in 3:30….hmmm, a little quick I noted but it feels OK. I was slowly bridging up to the two leaders near the first mile mark where I man yelling out splits said 6:02. Perfect. Just need to hold this pace from now on. Lets see if I can – Cal said trust in your fitness so I would. After passing through the zoo, I was feeling good enough to take over the lead near the 5km mark, which we passed through in 18:02.
I’d eaten a pretty big bowl of oatmeal at 4:15am and it was still feeling pretty heavy in my stomach. I’d forgotten how little I should eat before a pure running race! I was carrying a gel but didn’t think I would have any room to stomach it! On the amazingly flat course with a few tiny rollers, we headed west on 11th Ave downtown, it was cool to have all the streets completely closed off for the race. There was a headwind so I was happy to tuck in behind for a draft as we passed through the 10km split in 36:43, technically a 10km PB for me as my last 10km road race was a 38:19, which I ran at 16 years old – haven’t done much of this road stuff at all over the years!
After Coach Cal’s warning about bonking I forced down half my gel before we headed north on 14th and then west again on Memorial. There was a turn around at the 13km mark, and I was happy to see J-F had made it there with the kids in the Chariot – pretty impressive since normally the kids are still sleeping until closer to 8:00am. A small wave was all I could muster. Sometime around 14km I think Lisa dropped back a bit, and shortly afterwards, a guy we were running with started to pull ahead. I felt good and started to go with him but soon realized I was pushing it too early. I backed off and let purple tank top girl come back to me and decided I would just stick to her pace. Turns out this girl was Grace Kary, a young runner for the U of Calgary Dinos doing her first half marathon.
As we ran under the Centre Street bridge with about 17km to go Grace was pulling ever so slightly ahead and I was starting to lose contact with her. I was determined to just stick to her but my legs weren’t letting me! Shortly after we merged with the 10km racers which was a bit of a gong show for the last couple of kilometers trying to weave in and out of them, keep my pace, all the while trying to keep at least eye contact on the back of Grace. With about 500m to go we got our own finishing lane and I was able to just run as straight as possible – although that was even tough as even my eyeballs were starting to hurt and seeing straight was hard!
While I realized I would have to settle for 2nd I was also happy knowing I was going to get my goal time of a sub 1:20 time for the day. I crossed the line in 1:19:08. A great day, and fun seeing lots of friends out for the race as well. And nice to make a cool grand cash prize for the first time in a running race! Yeehaw, the top five were all awarded some nice cowboy hats as well – very fitting!
Here are the top five women overall, full results at www.calgarymarathon.com
1:18:37.63 Grace KARY F2024 Calgary AB
1:19:08.35 Danelle KABUSH F3539 Calgary AB
1:21:04.13 Lisa HARVEY F4044 Calgary AB
1:21:24.14 Nadyia FRY F2529 Invermere BC
1:23:31.37 Rosemarie GERSPACHER F3539 Calgary AB